THE GARIFUNA PEOPLE, or Garinagu, are descendants of the Arawaks and Caribs from the Caribbean and West Africans from the island of St. Vincent, and today live mainly along the Caribbean coast in Central American countries like Belize. The drum is the dominant instrument in Garifuna music, and the da-da…boom! sound is used not only to establish the beat of the song, but also to lead the singers. The drumming also has a direct relationship with the dancers, where dancer challenges drummer to follow his steps, and drummer challenges dancer to follow his beat.
While in Dangriga, the culture capital of Belize, I had the pleasure of meeting with traditional drum maker Austin Rodriguez, owner of Austin Rodriguez Drum Shop. He’s been making drums for over 35 years, and he and his daughters took the time to show me how it’s done.